The Port Phillip and Western Port region has 600 kilometres of outstanding coastal landscapes bordering the two iconic bays and Bass Strait. Port Phillip Heads, Point Nepean, the bay beaches and foreshores, Bass Strait surf beaches, French Island and Phillip Island provide a wide range of natural and cultural assets and are the most accessible parts of the region’s coasts.
The proximity of these areas to metropolitan Melbourne ensures they are popular for visits and are highly used. The emerging popularity of a “seachange” lifestyle is bringing more people to the coast as permanent residents. This high and growing demand on our coasts will increase the pressures on the coastal resources and amenity.
The environmental significance of the coast has been recognised through the creation of reserves such as National Parks, the declaration of Ramsar wetlands and more recently the recognition of the Mornington Peninsula and Western Port Biosphere Reserve.
The coastal areas contain examples of all eight of Victoria’s wetland types and provide important habitat for 14 nationally and internationally recognised shorebird species. Theinter-tidal zone contains reef systems that provide many important habitat and marine nursery areas.
Highly valued for their contributions to our lifestyles and industries, the coasts are sought for residential living as well as underpinning much of the region’s recreation and tourism activity. The coasts also support recreational activities such as swimming, surfing, sailing, fishing and walking.
Indigenous relationships with coastal and marine environments stretch back many thousands of years and are reflected in the cultural sites present along Victoria’s coast and in this region. These sites, which include shell middens and camping places, date back as far as 6,000 years which is when the sea rose to its present level.